Fall Gardening Festivals, Conferences, and Expos

September 5, 2013

I frequently publish a line up of spring gardening conferences but there are also some great fall events on tap for the backyard gardener or homesteader. For the past two years I have attended the Mother Earth News Fair that takes place in Seven Springs, PA and it has been a great event with a format that is similar to the PASA Farming for the Future Conference.

I won’t make it out to the Mother Earth News Fair this year but plan to share a few posts from interviews with speakers like the one last year that featured Niki Jabbour. For those of you outside of Pennsylvania looking for an event closer to home there is the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello in Charlottesville, VA and the National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa, CA.

Mother Earth News Fair, Seven Springs, PA

Mother Earth News FairMother Earth News is holding several fairs this year, one took place June 1-2 in Puyallup, WA, the upcoming one is scheduled for September 20-22 in Seven Springs, PA, and for the first time a third fair will be held in Lawrence, KS on October 12-13. Each event has a similar format but a different set of workshops and speakers.

Here are a few of speakers that I have enjoyed from past presentations: Barbara Pleasant will offer a presentation on composting, managing your own food supply, and more; Christy Hemenway and Matt Reed will both be on hand to discuss top bar hives; Candy DeBerry of Washington & Jefferson College will share ideas for attracting beneficial pollinators to the garden; and Eric and Wendy Brown will teach you how to forage for wild edibles in the suburbs.

Other workshops that grabbed my attention included Dawn Combs on “Growing Your Health Independence” by learning to use plants for first aid; Jessi Bloom’s “Easy Peasy Edibles” providing techniques that enable you to plant low-maintenance edibles and enjoy the harvest for years; and John Moody on “Six Inches of Soil in Six Months” showing how to build, improve, and protect your precious soil.

That’s just a small sampling of the information and topics to be covered at this year’s Mother Earth News Fair. I didn’t even mention the sessions scheduled with Ira Wallace, Niki Jabbour, Joel Salatin, or William Woys Weaver! For a complete listing of all of the activities, workshops, and vendors visit the Mother Earth News Fair website.

Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello, Charlottesville, VA

Ira Wallace first mentioned the Heritage Harvest Festival to me a couple years ago and while I have yet to attend the event it definitelyHeirloom Food Tasting sounds like a great festival for anyone who enjoys gardening. The 7th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello takes place on September 6-7 in Charlottesville, VA.

The festivities include workshops and lectures, cooking demonstrations, food tastings, seed swaps, heirloom plant displays, a vendor marketplace, garden tours, and more. One unique aspects of this event is the connection to Thomas Jefferson and his passion for agriculture and plant research. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation owns Monticello and uses the former mountaintop home of Jefferson to promote educational programs featuring historic plants and foods.

Another nice touch is the Backyard Revolution’s programming that explores the wisdom and knowledge of practical skills from our past including; arrowsmithing, Heritage Harvest Festivalcordage making, fermentation, Colonial cooking and recipes, furniture building, wool spinning, trapping, food preservation, and botanical dying techniques. This program and the skills covered ties in nicely with the more primitive skills and bushcraft that I enjoy working with.

The list of speakers at this festival include; Steve Bender, Ira Wallace, Roger Winn, Althea and Matthew Raiford, Harvey Ussery, Dr. Cary Fowler, Patricia Foreman, Joe Brunetti, and Tom Burford. You can find all the details and a complete schedule of activities on the Heritage Harvest Festival’s website.

The National Heirloom Exposition, Santa Rosa, CA

I would love to head out west for the National Heirloom Exposition that will be held on September 10th, 11th, and 12th this year in Santa Rosa, CA, however it doesn’t look like it will happen for me this time around. But if you live closer to the west coast this may be the perfect opportunity for you to explore the interesting world of heirloom plants, seeds, and even heritage breeds of livestock.

This will be the third time that this expo has taken place and it continues to grow in size, popularity, and scope each year. Of course the focus is on heirloom foods and protecting the quality and safety of our food supply in general. The keynote speakers are; Vandana Shiva, Patrick Holden, Jeffrey Smith, and Ronnie Cummins. A partial listing of lectures and presentations include the following:

  • Fred Hoffman – The Heart-Healthy Garden
  • Courtney Pineau – Preserving and Building a Non-GMO Food Supply
  • Alice Doyle – Growing the World’s Best Edibles
  • Elizabeth U – Raising Dough: Financing a Food-Based Business
  • Terry d’Selkie – Discovering the Ocean’s Garden of Seaweeds
  • John Jeavons – High Cost of Bad Food: Economics of Food Insecurity
  • Philip Howard – Global Seed Companies: Who Owns What?
  • Jeanette Beranger – Extraordinary Equines
  • Jill Nussinow – Planting Seeds of Change: Starting with Your Plate
  • William Woys Weaver – The Mainstreaming of Heirloom Food Plants
  • Jere Gettle – The Story of Our Seeds: Collecting, Preserving, and Passing Them On to Future Generations

There is much more in the way of workshops, exhibits, arts and crafts, music, delicious food, and fun-filled activities for the entire family. For more information visit the National Heirloom Exposition’s website.

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  • Lucy

    Hey have you seen this competition? Just upload a photo from your garden and you could win a garden makeover worth $10,000!

  • I didn’t make it to these festivals and expos this year due to my hectic schedule but yes I regret it. I will definitely look to attend these festivals, Conferences and expos this year as I am in Gardening for more than forty years. Thanks for valuable information here It really motivates me for this year.

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